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The Perils of UglytownStudies in Structural Misanthropology from Plato to Rembrandt$
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Harry Berger, Jr.

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823245161

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823245161.001.0001

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Cybernetic Alienation

Cybernetic Alienation

Prosthetic Strategies in Alberti, Leonardo, Castiglione, and Machiavelli

(p.215) 12. Cybernetic Alienation
The Perils of Uglytown

Harry Berger

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines the prosthetic strategies of Italian humanists Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, Baldessare Castiglione, and Niccolò Machiavelli. It begins with an overview of prosthesis and how it differs from more positive technological accomplishments such as automobiles, audio systems, and microscopes. It then considers cybernetic alienation, defined as the displacement of command functions from the body, and its basic rule, the abstraction rule. It also discusses mimetic idealism and its relation to misanthropy in the work of Alberti (corporeal prosthesis), Leonardo (anatomical prosthesis), Castiglione (behavioral prosthesis), and Machiavelli (constitutional prosthesis). Finally, it explores the idea of “negative feedback” in the context of cybernetic alienation and suggests that the field of study devoted to prosthetic dialectic deserves to be called structural misanthropology.

Keywords:   prosthesis, Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, Baldessare Castiglione, Niccolò Machiavelli, cybernetic alienation, mimetic idealism, misanthropy, prosthetic dialectic, structural misanthropology

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